Renewable energy accounted for 55.8 per cent of Germany’s net electricity generation across the first half of 2020, according to new figures published Wednesday by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).
The record first half of 2020 included a new monthly high record of 61.8% renewables, set in February.
Fraunhofer ISE keeps a tight watch on Germany’s electricity generation through its Energy Charts platform and on Wednesday announced that Germany’s renewable energy sector set a new generation record,.
Across the first six months of 2020, renewable energy dominated. Solar and wind electricity generation fed a total of 102.9TWh into Germany’s public electricity grid – up 11.5% on the same six months a year earlier. Wind energy was particularly dominant in Germany’s electricity grid, generating 30.6% of the total net generated electricity.
In contrast, coal-fired power generation fell dramatically across the same period, with the share of electricity generated by lignite falling to 13.7% and hard coal down to only 6%.
Germany’s new electricity generation paradigm was definitely affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with “noticeably lower demand for electricity” beginning in the second quarter “due to the decline in industrial production”, according to Fraunhofer ISE.
For example, electricity consumption dropped to only 35.3TWh in June of 2020, down 6% from 37.6TWh recorded in June of 2019. Electricity production similarly fell, collapsing from 47.9TWh in January down 25% to 36TWh in June.
Collectively, electricity consumption for the first six months of 2020 was only 234.2TWh, a dramatic 5% drop from 245.7TWh recorded during the first six months of 2019. Electricity production across the same period fell by 8% from 265.5TWh across the first six months of 2019 down 21.7TWh to 243.8TWh across the first six months of 2020.
Despite such dramatic falls in both consumption and production, renewable electricity generation nevertheless grew, resulting in fossil fuel generation bearing the brunt of the decline.
Wind energy generated approximately 75TWh in the first half of 2020, around 11.7% above that recorded a year earlier, and during February, due in large part to numerous winter storms, saw its share of net electricity generation rise to 45%.
German solar electricity generation increased by 11.2% to 27.9TWh as compared to 25.1TWH a year earlier, while hydroelectric production was down 9% to 9.5TWh.
Together, renewable energy sources of wind, solar, hydro, and biomass, generated approximately 136.1TWh of electricity across the first half of 2020 as compared to 125.6TWh a year earlier.
Conversely, both nuclear and coal-fired generation saw their share of the total drop dramatically, with nuclear dropping by 12.9% while Germany’s two forms of coal-fired generation, lignite-fired power plants and hard coal-fired power plants saw their shares drop by 36.3% and 45% respectively.
Fraunhofer ISE explained the “sharp decline” of coal by pointing to “the increased price of CO₂ certificates, which averaged 21.91 Euro/t-CO₂, as well as to the sharp drop in the day-ahead exchange electricity price of 22.94 Euro/MWh on average.”
Natural gas-fired power stations increased their production by 13.9% across the first half of 2020 thanks to a suite of reasons including the global switch from coal, a mammoth drop in natural gas prices – which fell by around 50% – and the fact that natural gas power plants have lower CO₂ certificate prices.
Mining and manufacturing industries are also now generating their own electricity from natural gas-fired power plants, which produced an additional 20TWh for the companies’ own industrial needs.